Members of the public are being urged to be aware of mandate fraud and how to protect against it as part of a national campaign.
Mandate fraud is when a scammer contacts someone to request a change of direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by claiming to be an organisation a person makes regular payments to.
It is a growing problem nationwide, however, between April and September 2018 3,848 mandate fraud crimes in Cambridgeshire have been reported to Action Fraud, amounting to a financial loss of £750,000.
Nigel Sutton, Cambridgeshire police’s fraud and cyber security advisor, said: “An example of this type of fraud may be that you receive a letter in the post which appears to come from the company supplying a monthly magazine to you. It provides details of a new bank account and asks you to change the payment details to reflect this. The direct debit bank mandate is amended as instructed, however the following month your magazine does not arrive and when you contact the publisher you are told that because your payment was cancelled you no longer have a subscription for the magazine.
“Phishing emails are can be aimed at anyone in the hope they make the payment change requested. They come in the form of letters, emails, phone calls, texts or even social media posts and messages. Sometimes the criminal behind these types of scams will look at social media profiles and annual reports to do their homework against the recipient to make them appear more convincing.”
Advice on how to best protect yourself:
- Don’t leave papers like bills lying around for others to look at and record details of standing orders and direct debits. Always verify changes to financial arrangements with the organisation directly using established contact details.
- If you are concerned about the source of a telephone call, text message or email, call the company back using established contact details you have on file.
- Check your bank statements carefully and report anything suspicious to your financial institution.
- Any changes to a payment should be verified by at least a second person within the family or business, if in doubt ask a trusted friend or work colleague.
- Read emails carefully, check for spelling and grammar, does the email use a generic salutation such as Dear Sir and not a name?
- Be suspicious of any urgency or threat to make the payment changes.